Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Now for the Strange World cup

For those who are still in the dark about the Cricket world Cup in its 'Frankenstein 2007' avatar (like I was, until Pratik pointed out in a cricinfo post) this link may be helpful. It is a rather strange format that strains to be foolproof and compromises the basic duration of a quadrennial showpiece in the process. Mutual isolation of the host countries renders the DNA strand like structure of the tourney all the more insufferable.

Come to think of it - the tournament lasts from March 11 to April 28......ONE AND A HALF MONTHS! ICC may as well have "Who awakes wins" on their logo. Seriously hope all the teams are allowed 16 man squads instead of the customary 14 (hotels permitting, of course - learnt that there'll be acute shortage of those!). The last thing we want is a final where a limping Pakistan team struggle to put up 200 on a belter and half-dead Indians struggle to chase it.
As for the Frankenstein part I can only pray that the apex competition in the game does not achieve the opposite of its basic aim of popularising the game beyond its present bounds. The 2003 edition of the Cup was not too successful in that respect, other than the bursting ICC coffers.
There are people that watch cricket once every four years, and they were virtually shooed away by a million inconsequential (mis)matches that had to be endured before the real action started - and ended soon after. Maybe enlightenment will dawn upon ICC some day of this auspicious millennium and they will be able to see that the world Cup is not exactly the stage where cricket lovers around the world would love to see fledgling sides learn their trade.
Dividing the 16 teams in four initial groups instead of the usual two is the first step the 2007 World Cup rulemakers have taken to curtail those 'promotion games' (cannot find any other words for those matches after the soccer world cup where even the 32nd ranked team looks consistently capable of causing an upset) . But in the process the Cup gets an overly long 'Super 8' phase that worries me no end. 24 more matches will be played during this phase, after the 24-match group league, and then only are we allowed to enter knock-out teritory. Hope you're still reading....
On the flip side, that very stage actually offers the cricket world a rare chance to compare the real strengths of so many leading cricket nations in the one day format while playing against each other. [I mean, even the semis and the final may pale in comparison to that cricket feast]. Reminds of the mini world cup of 1985, this Super 8...

2 comments:

Pratik said...

I really like this new format, Angshu. The change was due. This has allowed more small teams to come in the world cup (which, I think, is beneficial for the game in the long run -- however small the benefit may be), and virtually given all the main teams a chance to go to the second stage, which should be very exciting. No more SA and Pak not making it to the 2nd stage, which really ruined 2003's WC. Time-constrained fans can safely ignore the first round (which is just an extended warm-up) and follow the REAL world cup, which'll be a month long. And since every major team will play against every other major team, it should be a limited-overs feast for everybody. Except for the English, who don't really like anything they're not good at.

angshu said...

Hmmm - that's a nice way of treating it: just assume that the world Cup starts for super 8.